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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old July 23 2014, 07:22 AM   #1
LMFAOschwarz
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Shuttlecraft Questions

I was reading in the 'flipped ship' thread about how the Enterprise engine nacelles 'look 'right' on top, where they are. I've no argument with that.

One mildly interesting thought, in that vein, is how the nacelles on the shuttlecraft are on the bottom.

Then I got to thinking about the shuttlecraft in general.

One thing I don't know to this day is if the shuttlecraft can travel at warp speed? I'm inclined to assume not, but if not, why are the engines designed to look like them? It it a clever design gimmick by the ships' sales staff, intended to subtly imply that the ship was faster than it really is?

And if starships need gymnasium-sized engine rooms, how is it that a shuttlecraft needs no apparent 'engineering' section at all?

I never really had a firm grasp of the rear section, either. What was that room for? It often tends to come off as a sort of closet, and not a functional facility of some sort that limited space would demand.
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Old July 23 2014, 07:52 AM   #2
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

"The Menagerie", "Metamorphosis", and "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" are three episodes that flat out don't make sense if shuttles aren't warp-capable.
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Old July 23 2014, 08:01 AM   #3
LMFAOschwarz
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

Yeah, I was especially thinking of The Menagerie as you stated, CorporalCaptain. I get a weird reaction, though, to the shuttle pursuit scene. I always thought - instead of how fast the shuttle is - is why the Enterprise is going so slow?)
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Old July 23 2014, 12:05 PM   #4
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

"The Menagerie", "Metamorphosis", and "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" are three episodes that flat out don't make sense if shuttles aren't warp-capable.
Well, technically, they do. In the first, Kirk is giving the starship chase he knows to be utterly hopeless - so him doing so in a craft incapable of warp 1 would be no different from him doing so in a craft barely incapable of warp 8. In the second, the shuttle is being used even though a starship is available, so apparently the shuttle has an ability to compensate for one that the ship lacks; we witness an asteroid belt, so perhaps the shuttle was just traversing that, and would then rendezvous with the ship for the warp leg to the ultimate destination. And in the third, the shuttle was hijacked by an extremely long-lived lifeform who could afford to make a centuries-long transit to his next destination.

Giving the shuttles warp drive and the ability to do something like warp 2 would not be a problem plotwise, though. And it's actually "The Galileo Seven" that seems to demand for such an ability, as the shuttle explores a phenomenon spanning at least four star systems and our sidekicks make no effort to narrow down their search on the basis of limited speed/range when contact with the shuttle is lost.

As for the design of the nacelles, later technobabble speaks of subspace fields being essential in sublight travel, through reducing the inertial mass of the various spacecraft. It wouldn't be too difficult to argue that subspace fields must always be generated by several warp coil donuts in a row, no matter what their eventual application. And packing the donuts in pontoonlike nacelles or the cowlings seen in DS9 ships and craft then sort of automatically follows; the lower, the better for maintenance and for "relaxed" parking (with antigravity fields turned off and so forth).

And if starships need gymnasium-sized engine rooms, how is it that a shuttlecraft needs no apparent 'engineering' section at all?
In relative terms, underfloor machinery on the shuttle would be as massive or bulky as those gymnasium-sized rooms on the starship...

Although I gather that "ion power" (possibly the same as the polarized ion power of VOY infamy?) utilizes powerplants different in size and shape from the antimatter reactors of big starships. Perhaps polarized ion power is safe as long as you keep it small, but risks major kaboom beyond shuttlecraft size, which is why Scotty is so impressed in "Spock's Brain" and Janeway so worried in "Time and Again"...

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Old July 23 2014, 12:24 PM   #5
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

No.

In the case of "The Menagerie", the Enterprise should be long gone from the solar system of Starbase 11. The shuttle should not need rescue so close to the planet.

In the case of "Metamorphosis", there is no advantage in a starship diverting from its trajectory twice, first to drop a shuttle off and then to pick it up, if all it takes is a few minutes at warp to go to the planet to pick up the Commissioner.

In the case of "Battlefield", the shuttle was stopped already in interstellar space, or else it should have just taken a few minutes at warp to return to starbase.

Anything else just strains credibility.
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Last edited by CorporalCaptain; July 23 2014 at 10:36 PM.
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Old July 23 2014, 12:51 PM   #6
Melakon
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

If the shuttles do have warp capability, I've wondered how they manage to survive crash landings without those little nacelles exploding.
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Old July 23 2014, 01:07 PM   #7
ZapBrannigan
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

I think the makers of Star Trek intended the Shuttlecraft to be a sublight-only vessel, because they were English majors and, on a gut level, they did not grasp the vastness of space and the vast difference in speed between sublight and warp.

Thank goodness the dialog never came out and declared that shuttles were limited to sublight travel, because as CorporalCaptain said, they have to be warp-driven for the episodes to work. Space is just too big.
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Old July 23 2014, 01:50 PM   #8
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

I think it's clearly warp capable, but probably at a lower top speed and much shorter total distance.

Maybe top speed warp 5, and probably only for a week or two, rather than a ship that can be out for years if need be.


Lokai is pretty far out, but he's got all power diverted into squeezing out extra range, his life support was even on minimal power.

This is probably not "canon" or "official" but my understanding is that the engines on a Starship, like Enterprise, don't just move the ship but also generate almost all of the power needed to run the life support and computers and any other equipment on the vessel, so that big engine room also doubles as a power plant. Even when the engines are in idle orbiting a planet it's running everything in the ship. A shuttle just doesn't have that much equipment compared to that, so those little engines probably do just run the ship and maybe keep the batteries topped off.
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Old July 23 2014, 02:00 PM   #9
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

How big was Zefram Cochrane's first warp ship? (He probably figured a workaround to that Jupiter mass of negative matter problem.)
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Old July 23 2014, 02:57 PM   #10
Richard Baker
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

The Shuttle's engines are not that much different than the ones used to bring the Phoenix into warp and were much more advanced. The stories were written so the craft would have to be warp capable to make sense, it was just never spoken about on screen
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Old July 23 2014, 04:28 PM   #11
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

Whilst it is never stateed they are warp capable, we can infer from episodes that they have to be, but they might only have a range of ten or so light years just enough to go from one star system to another.
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Old July 23 2014, 06:54 PM   #12
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

As for not blowing up the nacelles on crashing, I'd always figured the nacelles on that era were a lot more robust than in later eras. By TNG, if you blow too hard on a warp nacelle of a Galaxy-class starship they have a warp core breech.
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Old July 23 2014, 09:49 PM   #13
Timo
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

In the case of "The Menagerie", the Enterprise should be long gone from the solar system of Starbase 11. The shuttle should not need rescue so close to the planet.
It's fairly routine for starships to spend time at sublight before hitting the warp pedal; in "The Squire of Gothos", Sulu even stays at sublight despite a pressing crisis. Plus, Spock (or the Talosians controlling him) apparently wanted to be caught by Kirk anyway. So the Enterprise might have remained at sublight until the moment Kirk was picked up; any commands regarding warp speed would only apply after clearing the system's Kashishowa perimeter or whatnot.

As for the rescue aspect, it seems SB11 couldn't deploy anything better than this shuttle to chase the stolen ship; what could have been sent to rescue Kirk and "Mendez", then? Spock was within range to save Kirk before life support quit, but another Class F shuttle would by definition have failed in that task.

In the case of "Metamorphosis", there is no advantage in a starship diverting from its trajectory twice, first to drop a shuttle off and then to pick it up, if all it takes is a few minutes at warp to go to the planet to pick up the Commissioner.
Exactly. From which it probably follows that the ship could not go to the planet - we don't know why, but remember the asteroids! This sort of thing happens a lot in TNG, starting with "The Neutral Zone". Using a shuttle for insystem travel, often explicitly at sublight (in TNG, it's easy to tell!), is standard Starfleet procedure surprisingly often, and may be related to the mystery of whether warping inside a star system is risky or not. Local conditions may dictate sublight travel, so letting a shuttle handle that tedious work and waste all those hours is preferable to letting the ship get stuck at sublight.

In the case of "Battlefield", the shuttle was stopped already in interstellar space, or else it should have just taken a few minutes at warp to return to starbase.
Admittedly so.

If the shuttles do have warp capability, I've wondered how they manage to survive crash landings without those little nacelles exploding.
What crash landings? Even in "The Galileo Seven", not a landing leg was bent in the touchdown...

Whilst it is never stateed they are warp capable, we can infer from episodes that they have to be, but they might only have a range of ten or so light years just enough to go from one star system to another.
We never witness an interstellar journey, though. All we get is ship-to-system, or system-to-ship. Admittedly, often this is because a voyage is aborted, but the episodes don't actually specify a shuttle journey from system A to system B without starship help - in "Metamorphosis", Scotty is clearly supposed to pick up the shuttle from the get-go, say - even if they may imply the capacity.

Low warp would still be extremely useful in insystem operations or in these strange planet-to-ship runs we so often see in TNG.

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Old July 23 2014, 10:01 PM   #14
Nebusj
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

LMFAOschwarz wrote: View Post
Yeah, I was especially thinking of The Menagerie as you stated, CorporalCaptain. I get a weird reaction, though, to the shuttle pursuit scene. I always thought - instead of how fast the shuttle is - is why the Enterprise is going so slow?)
Well, in that case, there is the obvious: the Enterprise is going so slow in order that Spock can be caught. The charade of the trial has to take up as much time as possible, after all, and dragging out his arrest doesn't hurt.

Even if we suppose that shuttlecraft lack warp drive, though, we have got some scraps of dialogue suggesting faster-than-light travel on impulse. Yes, those were probably editing mistakes, but after all, why not take the more interesting supposition that if you really applied impulse power to its fullest, you might achieve as much as warp six?
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Old July 23 2014, 10:02 PM   #15
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Shuttlecraft Questions

From "The Menagerie":

SPOCK: Stand by. We'll warp out of orbit in one hour.
It was pedal to the metal right off the bat (or at least some warp speed).

In "Metamorphosis", the asteroid belt where they met Cochrane was almost certainly not in the Epsilon Canaris star system, otherwise Uhura wouldn't have said it was a "big galaxy" for them to look for the shuttlecraft in.
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